Posted by: rcottrill | May 27, 2010

Today in 1676 – Paul Gerhardt Died

Gerhardt wrote many hymns. Two of them were translated into English by John Wesley: Give to the Winds Thy Fears, and Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me. The latter is best sung to the tune St. Catherine (commonly used for Faith of Our Fathers). It is one of those songs that just overflows with passionate adoration of the Lord. (For more about Paul Gerhardt and this hymn, see Today in 1607.)

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart with Thee
And reign without a rival there.
To Thee alone, dear Lord, I live;
Myself to Thee, dear Lord, I give.

(2) Today in 1821 – Henry Baker Born
Sir Henry Williams Baker was an Anglican clergyman who organized and led a group of 40 contributors in the creation of a historically famous hymnal, Hymns, Ancient and Modern (1861). It sold 60 million copies. Baker’s readiness to edit and alter the hymns of others caused one person to say sarcastically that the book should have been called “Hymns Asked for and Mutilated”! But the passing years have shown that in most cases Baker’s judgment was solid.

The Bible tells us many times to praise the Lord. Psalm 106 begins and ends with this. “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (vs. 1)  And, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’ Praise the Lord!” (vs. 48). The Hebrew word for praise (halal) is interesting. It means to boast. When used of God it includes the elements of thankfulness, satisfaction, and joy. We are very prone to boast about ourselves and our accomplishments. But the One who truly deserves our “boasting” is the Lord (cf. II Cor. 10:17).

Henry Baker also wrote what I believe is one of the greatest hymns of praise in the English language. Find a hymn book that includes all 8 stanzas of O Praise Ye the Lord (or check it out on the Cyber Hymnal). Possibly you could have your church sing it on Thanksgiving Sunday (using the stirring tune Laudate Dominum).

O praise ye the Lord! praise Him in the height;
Rejoice in His Word, ye angels of light;
Ye heavens, adore Him by whom ye were made,
And worship before Him in brightness arrayed.

On his deathbed on February 12, 1877, Henry Baker quoted the words of another of his hymns,  his paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm, The King of Love My Shepherd Is. He said:

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

(3) Today in 1927 – Ralph Carmichael Born [Note: some sources give Carmichael’s birth date as May 28.]
Mr. Carmichael wrote a number of popular gospel songs in the 60’s and 70’s: Is Your Burden Heavy? The Saviour Is Waiting; In the Stars His Handiwork I See; and Because the Lord Is My Shepherd, the latter being a paraphrase of Psalm 23. It begins:

Because the Lord is my shepherd,
I have everything that I need;
He lets me rest in meadows green
And leads me beside the quiet stream.


  1. Ooh! Paul Gerhardt! He has two Christmas hymns in Lutheran Service Book. Both are in obscure meters! “O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is” comes with the meter 4.4.11.D. “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” comes with the meter

    I guess he wanted new tunes for his texts 🙂

    Anyways, my favorite Gerhardt verse is from the Lenten Hymn, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.”

    Lord, when Your glory I shall see
    And taste Your kingdom’s pleasure,
    Your blood my royal robe shall be,
    My joy beyond all measure!
    When I appear before Your throne,
    Your righteousness shall be my crown;
    With these I need not hide me.
    And there, in garments richly wrought,
    As Your own bride shall we be brought
    To stand with joy beside You.

    I also recommend books by Paul Gerhardt’s brother, Johan Gerhardt. “The Daily Exercise of Piety” is quite deep. It is short and challenging! One can take in just a few pages a day and have plenty to chew on.

    Oh, and I learned those Carmichael songs back in the late 70’s/early 80’s in grade school 🙂

    • Lovely stanza from Gerhardt. Thanks for sharing it. Reminiscent of Nikolaus von Zinzendorf’s…
      Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
      My beauty are, my glorious dress;
      ’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
      With joy shall I lift up my head.

  2. […] the service. You can find something about each on this blog: All People That on Earth Do Dwell; O Praise Ye the Lord; and Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (the latter amended to “Guide us O Thou great […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. […] Dominum (or, Parry) by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (b. Feb. 27, 1848; d. Oct. 7, 1918) Links: Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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